Plettenberg Bay winery Newstead Wines has become the first producer outside of the traditional Western Cape Winelands to be crowned overall winner of the Amorim Cap Classique Challenge, South Africa’s leading competition focussed exclusively on selecting the country’s top Cap Classique sparkling wines. In a ground-breaking announcement, Newstead MCC Blanc de Blancs 2015 not only took a Double Gold Medal and the Trophy for Best Blanc de Blancs, but was also named the Top Scoring Cap Classique at this year’s Amorim Challenge.
This is the 19th consecutive year the Amorim Cap Classique Challenge was held, an event sponsored by the synonymous cork producer that is this year celebrating 150 years of crafting cork stoppers for the international wine industry. Some 121 entries were received for this year’s competition.
Newstead Wines, one of the pioneers of the Plettenberg Bay winelands on the Cape South Coast some 520km east of Cape Town, was founded by Doug and Sue Lund in 2006, with their first wines being made in 2012. Although Newstead’s Cap Classiques have won various accolades in the past, this is the first time the winery has featured at the Amorim Cap Classique Challenge. The award for this year’s overall winner, given to the wine that achieved the highest accumulated score from the five judges, is sure to herald-in a new era of recognition for the Plettenberg Bay wine region.
In the other categories, the Amorim Cap Classique Challenge Trophy for Best Scoring Brut Blend went to Klein Roosboom from Durbanville with the Klein Roosboom Marné MCC Brut (n/v). Best Rosé was Franschhoek’s Anthonij Rupert Wines with its L’Ormarins Brut Classique Rosé (n/v), while the Graham Beck Bliss Nectar (n/v) saw this famous Robertson producer win the trophy for Best Demi-Sec Cap Classique.
A unique feature of the Amorim Cap Classique Challenge is the awarding of a trophy for Best Museum Class Cap Classique, presented to a wine of eight years or older. The winning wine in this category for 2020 was Lourensford Wines in Somerset-West for Lourensford Cuvée 101 2010.
According to Heidi Duminy CWM, convenor of the judging panel for this year’s Amorim Challenge, the Blanc de Blancs category was the stand-out segment in this year’s competition, winning a total of five Double Gold medals.
“After a disappointing run last year, the Blanc de Blancs class is shining brightly again and was most consistently impressive,” she said. “The brilliance of the 2015 vintage really turned-up here in all its glory. The best wines ranged in discernible style from bright and showy to more restrained and pristine. Fresher styles with extended lees age should be appreciated. We experienced excellent balance of fruit expression embellished by leesy intrigue and well-judged dosage. Chardonnay driven wines certainly seem the most promising for Cap Classique on the whole.”
The category for Brut Blends received the most entries (41), followed by Blanc de Blancs (37), Rosé (26) Demi-Sec (11) and Museum Class (6).
Speaking at this year’s Amorim Cap Classique Challenge awards’ ceremony held in Franschhoek, Amorim SA managing director Joaquim Sá said this year’s competition was held in the most extraordinary times imaginable due to the national lockdown South Africa experienced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“But for us as organisers, the country’s Cap Classique producers and the judging panel it was a case of ‘the show must go on’,” he said. “Getting the competition on track has been a true collective effort, with everyone involved going to extraordinary efforts, from arranging for wine entries to be legally transported during the lockdown, to the organisers who put cutting-edge measures in place to ensure that the judging of the wines went ahead in a safe environment. I would like to thank everybody involved for going that extra mile – especially the Cap Classique producers who sent 121 wines for judging at a time when their focus was rudely redirected by the challenges of Covid-19 and its effect on the wine industry.
“That the competition generated such enthusiasm among producers underscores the fact that the Amorim Cap Classique Challenge has become an integral part of the South African wine industry, honouring a sector that is locally and internationally being recognised as one of the country’s premier wine offerings.”
The Double Gold (93 points-plus) winners in the year’s Amorim Cap Classique Challenge were:
Blanc de Blancs
Newstead MCC Blanc de Blancs 2015 (Trophy and Overall Winner)
Babylonstoren Sprankel 2015
Bon Courage Jacques Bruére 2011
Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs 2015
Paul René MCC Brut Chardonnay 2016
Klein Roosboom Marné MCC Brut (n/v) (Trophy)
Lord’s Wines MCC Brut (n/v)
Lourensford Cuvée 101 2010 (Trophy)
Domaine des Dieux Claudia Brut MCC 2009
The winners of Gold Medals (90 points – 92.9 points)
L’Ormarins Brut Classique Rosé (n/v) (Trophy)
Blanc de Blancs
Colmant Blanc de Blancs (n/v)
Boschendal Jean Le Long Prestige Cuvée Blanc de Blancs 2009
Louisvale MCC Brut (n/v)
Peter Falke MCC Noelina 2015
Graham Beck Bliss Nectar (n/v) (Trophy)
This year’s judges were Heidi Duminy (convenor), Cathy Marston (wine educator and writer), Penny Setti (sommelier) and winemakers Paul Gerber and Pierre de Klerk. Nathan Valentine from Villiera was the protégé judge.